Children eligible for free school meals will continue to receive support during half term, Northamptonshire’s two unitary authorities have confirmed.
Ahead of the upcoming half term (May 31 - June 4), the unitary authorities now in charge of the west and north of the county have confirmed they will once again provide struggling families with a £15 voucher, per eligible child.
Across the county, an estimated 19,000 children are now eligible for free school meals, which is an increase of 2,000 compared to October last year and an increase of nearly 5,000 compared to October 2019.
The-£3-a-day support for next week can be used at one of nine supermarkets and will be funded through the Covid Local Support Grant given to the council by central Government, specifically the Department for Work and Pensions.
A spokesperson for West Northamptonshire Council said: “Once again families with children eligible to receive Free School Meals will be offered a voucher.
“This school holiday food support continues to be funded through the Covid Local Support Grant given to West Northamptonshire Council by the Department for Work and Pensions.
“Parents and guardians of eligible children should receive a £15 voucher from their child’s school this week which can be redeemed at one of nine retailers: Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Marks and Spencer, McColl’s Newsagents, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Waitrose.
“Vouchers don’t have to be spent in one go, but once a retailer is chosen, it is not possible to change for another.
“Those with multiple children eligible will receive one £15 voucher per child.”
A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council confirmed the above is also correct for families in the north of the county, too.
The scheme remains in place, locally, this year despite Northamptonshire’s seven MPs voting down a national motion to continue the free school meal scheme across the UK during school holidays in October 2020.
After it was decided that the free school meal scheme would not be extended by central Government, England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford led a huge campaign to provide 1.4 million children across the country with food vouchers during the holidays.
Some local authorities, including in Northamptonshire, took note and put plans in place to continue the vital support during the holidays.
Although there were issues in the county with practicalities last year, the scheme continues now.